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Letters for the May 9, 2014 issue

Thanks, Scappoose community

The leadership class of Scappoose High School would like to formally thank the community for its efforts in the 2014 Doernbecher Days. As a whole, we were able to raise over $18,000 for the children’s hospital through the efforts of our friends, families and local businesses. Many businesses, organizations and individuals contributed this year, including Pizza Vendor, Yo Mamas, Dairy Queen, Hildreth & Associates, Sears, Fork’d, Dutch Bros, Papa Murphy’s, Fultano’s, Scappoose Boosters, Figaro, Bliss, Berts Kitchen, and Ace Hardware. We are especially thankful to Ichabod’s and Tina Hall for donating all of the food for ’50s Diner Night. This year was a huge success. Thanks to all of you.

Courtney Scott

Scappoose High School Leadership

Dog owners, beware!

The dog ordinances of the city of St. Helens seem to care more for the safety of cats than people. In section 6.04.060, an “aggressive” dog is defined as one who “bites, causes physical injury, or otherwise threatens or endangers the safety of any person or domestic animal.” A “dangerous’ dog is defined as one who causes “serious physical injury or death of any person” or “kills any domestic animal.”

The difference in classification is critical as an “aggressive” dog can be maintained in St. Helens while it is illegal to maintain a “dangerous” dog.

So, a dog that bites a person is allowed to live in St. Helens, but a dog that kills a cat can’t, and can be euthanized for its “crime.”

Does this really make sense? Personally, I am much more comfortable with a dog that chases cats than one who bites people.

Barbara Montgomery

St. Helens

Messed up insurance

I had spent countless hours both on the computer and on the phone trying to make sure everything is signed up the way it is suppose to be. Even having face-to-face talks and meetings. Here I am, uninsured and disabled. As well, I have no drug plan to cover my prescriptions. The people running things had caused the mess up.

RJ Melton


Breaking down the bar poll

I saw your good article in last week’s Spotlight on the results of the Oregon State Bar Association survey of local attorneys (see “Martwick narrowly wins state bar poll,” A10). The three attorneys in the race are Cathleen Callahan and Jean Martwick, both of whom are local attorneys who have practiced in Columbia County for a long time, and Jason Heym, a big-time lawyer in a Portland and Seattle firm that does men’s divorces.

The judge position became vacant when Judge Steve Reed retired and the governor was to appoint a temporary judge for the period to the current election. There was a survey then done by the Oregon State Bar asking local attorneys who they thought would be the best choice for the temporary appointment, and Callahan got the most votes in that survey, though the governor then appointed Martwick.

In the second survey done by the Oregon State Bar prior to the current election, Martwick (the incumbent for the interim period) got 18 votes and Callahan got 17, with Heym getting four. Heym did not help himself by emphasizing that he works for an elite law firm in Portland dealing with problems far above those of we common folk here in Columbia County (See “Appointed judge draws challengers in 3-way race,” Feb. 14).

So, from my perspective, I think either Callahan or Martwick would be better than Heym. Between Callahan and Martwick, I would vote for Callahan. Her practice over the years has spanned all the areas a judge would be dealing with, she’s been active in the local community, has worked with our Legal Aid over the years, and she’s a nice person.

Mike Sheehan


What it’s about, not what it’s not about

It’s not about what happened when the jail was constructed.

It’s not about what will happen in three years when the levy expires.

It’s not about how much it costs to house a prisoner.

It’s not about which elected official you don’t trust.

It is about our quality of life, our property values, the economic health of all of our communities,the safety of all of us — you, your family members, your friends, your neighbors, and everyone that passes through our county.

Without a jail, we will all lose — big time.

Please do not cut off your nose to spite your own face. We are facing a crisis in this county right now. We need a jail. Vote “yes” for the jail levy. Work on the solving or improving all of the other issues during the next three years.

Leahnette Rivers

Columbia City

Revenue review

Now is the time to realize the benefit of the Port of St. Helens and its willingness to help Columbia County.

When Portland General Electric brings its next generator online down at Port Westward, it will immediately generate tax revenue for a number of taxing districts, including the county.

Starting from the jump, this one project will generate $584,254 the first year. This should have been dedicated to the jail, not the general fund. For those who need to know where those figures are on the Port’s spreadsheet, add the $400,000 county payments and $184,254.

There are more projects coming.

You can’t fault the Port Commission for not trying to help the county. But you need to ask the county commissioners why, in this moment of crisis, isn’t this windfall being dedicated where it’s obviously needed?

Wayne Mayo


Grant succeeds as person, judge

I don’t know Jenefer Grant as a judge — thank heavens — but I do know her as a person. Jenefer, I know, her folks couldn’t spell real well, has been a fellow Rotarian for six-plus years, and in that time she has always given her personal time to the many Rotarian causes. Sometimes she even invents the causes or actions.

Jenefer and her family live in this great old house in St. Helens, the scene of many a Rotary social event. It doesn’t take long to feel the warmth of that household and the family in it.

Jenefer is what I would classify as an “upbeat person.” She smiles because she enjoys your company, she’s serious when you ask her questions, and she’s intelligent when she gives you an answer.

Isn’t that what judgment is all about?

Your vote for Jenefer is for all of Columbia County, now and into the future.

Len Waggoner


Callahan has the experience

When we think of our court system, we often think of criminal cases. But the vast majority of what goes before the court are civil law cases. Divorce. Child custody. Contract law. Employment concerns.

Unfortunately, these cases are often put on the back burner, because they’re not viewed as a priority. And since these law cases are delayed for so long, families and individuals are often left hanging, waiting for a decision.

That is why I am voting for Cathleen Callahan for Columbia County Circuit Court. Cathleen currently works as a civil attorney and owns her own small practice in St. Helens. For many years, she served as the city prosecutor for the city of Clatskanie. But now she concentrates on family, employment, and contract law.

With all due respect to our current judges, Cathleen has the most experience with family and employment law. She knows what to look for in these cases and how to issue a ruling or a decision quickly.

It can often take up to a year for the Columbia County Circuit Court to grant a divorce, or issue a ruling in a child custody case. That is simply unacceptable. Divorce and child custody are very difficult and often traumatizing issues. But once a person or a family decides to go through with it, the court should make it as efficient and easy as possible for them. People should be able to move on with their lives and the court needs to work harder to facilitate that.

I’m voting for Cathleen Callahan for circuit court because she’s the only candidate with significant experience in practicing family law in Columbia County. She has the understanding — and the commitment — to rule on these cases quickly and help people move on with their lives.

Duane Meissner


Global should look at full scope of oil-by-rail problem

It seems a strange coincidence that Global Partners announced Tuesday, April 29, that they are finally going to phase in safer rail cars for transporting crude oil. Perhaps yet another derailment and explosion, this time in Lynchburg, Va., on the same day prompted this public relations response.

It does make one wonder if it is comforting to those who witnessed 50,000 gallons of crude oil plummet into the James River and flow downstream to the Chesapeake Bay to realize that Global only intends this upgrade for oil being transported to it facilities in Albany, New York, and Clatskanie.

Although Global states on its website that it only transports crude oil to its Albany terminal, we know this is not true. It is also being transported by unit trains down the Columbia River, through Portland, Scappoose, St. Helens, Rainier and Clatskanie. And, according to Global’s website, Global recently acquired a 60 percent interest in Basin Transload LLC, which operates two transloading facilities in North Dakota with a combined rail loading capacity of 160,000 barrels a day. Basin Transload’s Beulah site, which supports crude oil production efforts in the Williston Basin, is located along the BNSF Railroad with direct long-haul service to the West Coast and Gulf Coast markets, while the Columbus, North Dakota, facility is located along the Canadian Pacific Railway and provides single-line haul service to Global’s recently expanded terminal in Albany.

Why is Global not upgrading all rail cars used to transport crude oil? Why is Global only planning on upgrading the rail cars going to Albany or Clatskanie? Could it have anything to do with the considerable community opposition in both locations to the transportation of crude oil, particularly from the Bakken shale, through urban and residential regions, and the demands for accountability and transparency?

If so, it is encouraging to see some results from community efforts. However, this reputed “progress” is not enough and does not even scratch the surface of the concerns expressed in both communities.

Although the safety of the rail cars is of paramount importance, there are other crucial issues to address. The recent explosions and derailments emphasize how critical it is to address at least three of them, and to do so immediately: (1) the safety of the rail cars; (2) the safety of the route; and (3) the suitability of transporting crude oil by train.

Currently, oil trains are not subject to the same restrictions on routing as trains transporting other hazardous materials, like chlorine, despite the evidence that crude oil, particularly oil from the Bakken shale, is particularly hazardous due to its high content of propane and methane. But it would cost the transporter more to route those trains around populated areas because they might have to share routes, or find alternate terminals for shipping.

Perhaps, instead of trying to put a small fix on a huge problem, those profiting from transporting hazardous materials through our towns and neighborhoods, and the officials responsible for regulating the transporters, should be looking at the entire scope of the problem.

Liese Horn


Judge Martwick lives in Columbia County

The rumor that Judge Martwick does not live in Columbia County is false. She has lived here for years and paid property taxes in the county for over 10 years. I have been to her house in Scappoose where she has a great livable spot for her disabled veteran son, who she has cared for over 20 years.

To all those who believe this false rumor, first check your source, then visit her on: www.judgejeanmartwick.org. It literally reads like an Horatio Alger Jr. story with all the initiative, persistence and pluck her trajectory of waitress to judge with three children in tow is revealed.

Cliff Bauer


Backing Heimuller

Henry Heimuller is getting our votes for county commissioner. We have watched him long enough and close enough to know he is conscientious and energetic in trying to create the best future for Columbia County. We have found him to be honest and straightforward in his relationships with his constituents.

While we don’t agree on some matters, he will listen thoughtfully and, we believe, change directions when he finds that the evidence is sufficient to do so.

Columbia County has been struggling to improve its financial base with the decline in federal timber revenues. There are no easy answers. In these times, Henry Heimuller’s experience, energy and competence make him the best choice in this election.

Chip and Nancy Bubl


Heimuller is one of us

We have a decision to make as Columbia County residents. We can remain status quo or we can move forward for our future and the future of Columbia County.

I believe in moving forward and not becoming a bedroom community of Portland and Beaverton.

The economy in our county has been tough. We need family-wage jobs, but we also need companies and individuals that are willing to work hand-in-hand with our communities. It’s no secret that federal tax dollars and timber tax revenue have all but disappeared. We need local leaders who have stood by Columbia County and its citizens and who have been willing to make the tough decisions every day. We need one that cares about our schools, law enforcement, our seniors and our veterans.

As a voter, I look to those who have experience and foresight to serve their neighbor in a time of need. It’s for these reasons I’m supporting Henry Heimuller for Columbia County commissioner. Henry has shown the skills and integrity to work alongside the other commissioners and for the people. He makes hard decisions to bring new family-wage jobs to the county.

Henry is one of us, born and raised in Columbia County; he asks the tough questions to get honest answers to bring the best to all citizens.

I urge your support Henry Heimuller for county commissioner.

George Schmitz


Vote local; vote Callahan

You know the story. A politician gets elected to a seat. Then he or she spends all of his or her time in Salem, or in Washington, D.C. And the politician loses touch with their home and their neighbors.

That is why I am voting for Cathleen Callahan for the Columbia County Circuit Court.

Cathleen has been a part of our community for 20 years. She works here. She lives here. And she volunteers here. I trust her to make the best possible decisions for us, and our community, as a circuit court judge.

Cathleen has lived in the same home for 20 years. She has worked in our community for the last 14 years, as the city prosecutor for the city of Clatskanie and now as the owner of a small practice in downtown St. Helens. She chose to set up a business in Columbia County so that she could hire locally and contribute to our economy.

Cathleen has long been a community leader and she spends her free time volunteering in our community to make it an even a better place to live. She was the president of the Columbia County Bar Association and a member of the Columbia County Rotary Club.

She sits on the boards of the South Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and SAFE of Columbia County, formerly the Columbia County Women’s Resource Center. She has long provided free legal services for Columbia County CASA for Kids, as well as for the Columbia Humane Society.

Cathleen has been endorsed by many of our community’s leaders: state Rep. Brad Witt, former County Commissioner Rita Bernhard, the mayors of Vernonia, Rainier, Clatskanie and Columbia City. That’s because they know that Cathleen Callahan will work for the community that she loves.

Katherine Orr

St. Helens

No connections, just contempt

I, for one, like Clatskanie. I like what our town is about and what our community stands for. I am proud to have raised a family here.

So it really bothers me when some Portland attorney moves to Columbia County barely three years ago, decides to run for judge, and insults our community.

In an interview with the Spotlight (“Appointed judge draws challengers in 3-way race” Feb. 14), Jason Heym, candidate for the Columbia County Circuit Court, said, “I just happen to be an excellent lawyer, and so I work at one of the best law firms in the state ... my clients expect much more. The caliber of law is much higher, frankly. When people out in Columbia County have a very complicated case, they don’t run down to the local strip mall to hire their lawyer. They come to me.”

Never mind that he comes off as incredibly conceited. His comments are also highly condescending.

Do we not have sophisticated-enough lawyers here? Are our professionals not smart enough to handle complex issues?

Jason Heym, how are you going to be a good judge if you look down on all of our attorneys? How will any Columbia County attorney be able to appear in front of you and feel that their client will be heard? Let’s get respectful elected officials, not those who are nasty while asking for our vote.

Please join me in voting for Cathleen Callahan for circuit court judge.

Shelli Brown


Time for a change

I appreciate those who give of their personal time to work toward public good and am convinced it is important now to move away from professional politicians whenever possible.

Wayne Mayo and Cathleen Callahan are two people on the ballot for election who have proven themselves and have made a difference by donating many hours of community service to improve our lives here in Columbia County.

Please join me in voting for them.

Arnold Reed


Jail levy masks the results

of bad public policy

Much has been said about the cost to house federal prisoners.

Many, including Columbia County Commissioner Tony Hyde, have called the math “voodoo math.” For a moment, lets forget about the past — as the county wants you to do — and talk about the future if the levy passes.

The $5 million yearly budget divided by 365 days and again divided by 100 local and 60 federal inmates equals a $85.62 per-day cost to house an inmate at our jail if the levy passes. Period. Not complicated.

So, by renting beds at $78 per day, even after getting a $7 million “bonus” from the taxpayer, we will still be losing money on the federal inmates. These costs do not include the cost of the jail, for which we are still paying, so the daily costs are actually greater.

And, contrary to Commissioner Henry Heimuller’s claims at the candidates forum, the sheriff does not have some magic number where we are making $30 a day. I asked the sheriff and he just looked sad.

So, why does the sheriff and county commissioners want the federal inmates so bad, and claim them as “income”?

Lets say you are a smart businessperson and have decided to open a restaurant. You have determined that your daily costs are $200 per day to pay rent, taxes, staff, food, etc. A person comes in and buys a $10 lunch. Do you turn the person away because you need to make $200 per day? If that was your only customer for the day, do you tell everyone you had $10 in “income” or do you say I lost $180 today?

That is the situation we are faced with. While the federal inmates help to cover our fixed costs to run the jail, Tony Hyde’s plan to run the jail as a business is a complete failure. We need about 110 federal prisoners each day to break even. A business would have to get more customers, lower costs or raise prices. In our case, the county wants you, the taxpayer, to fund their failed, ill-conceived idea of running a business by housing federal prisoners.

I think a jail is important, and I might be willing to fund the jail for a short time while we work to see if there are other solutions. But, when the county denies the problem — that the jail was a bad idea — and that we don’t have enough federal inmates to cover the overheard costs of our too-big jail — I have no faith they will ever find a solution.

I might forgive their plan to run the jail as a business, but they first have to admit it was wrong or they will do again and again.

In 2008, as the jail costs climbed, county officials had the brilliant idea to double the size of the jail to almost 600 — because the solution for a too-big jail is to make it bigger. The bothersome fact is not that this plan failed again, but that Hyde just a few weeks ago said that it was too bad we did not double the size of the jail. Really? We can’t afford a 255-bed jail, and you wish it was double — really?

So much for learning from your mistakes.

The county has proposed a citizen advisory committee if the jail levy passes. But Heimuller said publicly last week that they are smart enough to look at all solutions, and the only solution is the jail levy. Then why even go through the sham to have a committee if they already know there is no solution?

If we increased our bed rental rate to $128 a day, as Multnomah County charges, with 60 federal inmates, that is over $1 million a year.

How many millions do you want to give them before they find another solution that does not include you bailing them out every three years?

I will be voting no on 5-238.

Brady Preheim

St. Helens

The right kind of values

A judge needs to know a criminal when she sees one, and ensure that someone who is really guilty of a crime gets locked up.

But a judge should be compassionate, too. Everyone, regardless of income or background, should have a voice in court, and a judge needs to defend that.

We can depend on Cathleen Callahan for that. She has dedicated herself to our community by volunteering her time.

Cathleen has donated over 250 hours a year to low-income people through pro bono work. These people can’t get heard in court because they don’t have the money to hire a lawyer. Cathleen will represent these people for free. She will work to ensure that our courts don’t have a “you-must-be-this-rich-to-ride” element.

Cathleen has long volunteered her legal expertise to Columbia County’s CASA for Kids. CASA for Kids helps foster children find permanent homes. She provides free legal representation to the Columbia Humane Society and the Clatskanie Healthcare Coalition. She is a member of the Rotary Club and she coaches year-round Special Olympics events.

Cathleen is on the board of SAFE of Columbia County, formerly the Columbia County Women’s Resource Center, Columbia County Legal Aid, the South Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and is an associate member of the United Way of Columbia County.

Our judges need to be tough, but they also need to be fair. And that means being compassionate. That’s why you should vote for Cathleen Callahan for circuit court.

Wally Thompson

St. Helens